Social media is the future of the web, right?
But what exactly is social media? According to Wikipedia:

Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many).

Simply put, websites like Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, StumbleUpon etc, which allow user contribution and quick sharing of information form what we call social media.
Social media rocks.
But have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to succeed in social media as an online business owner?
Now, I understand that a couple of internet marketers are making a killing online using social media, but most internet marketers are still trying to find out how to make social media work.
For people who still have not found success here, it really isn’t their fault.
Here is the brutal truth: It is very difficult and time-consuming to make social media work..
And to cause even more problems, social media courses make everything sound a bit too easy, which confuses people even more. Just about every course out there gives the user a “foolproof” plan. Social media does not work that way.
Anyway, here are 3 reasons why it is quite difficult to find success using social media:
1. Social media processes are extremely difficult to manipulate: This is by far the most important point.
There is no short-cut to getting mass appeal. There is literally no way you can “force” the masses to promote your content if they do not like you. If people do not like you, they might ignore you, leave your group or simply report you as a spammer.
The point is, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to get a short-cut to social media success.
And taking a short-cut is exactly what most people want.
A lot of people start a Twitter account in order to leverage their followers into becoming buyers, but give up hope in a few weeks. They complain that the followers are always “listening” to their tweets but never respond.. How do you sell to someone who does not respond?
This slide-show suggests some of the reasons why people think Twitter might not be perfect after all.
It is the same with Facebook too. Most people also start marketing on Facebook by quickly forming a group, sending mass invites and hoping to see the sales roll in, which never happens.
If you want to be successful in social media, you have to avoid taking short-cuts. Social media success is a game of consistency and persistence.
If you try to manipulate people to your benefit, it will backfire as most people will be able to see through your self-serving practices.
2. You need to give it a lot of time: Unless you are someone popular, you need to work very hard to get people to like and trust you.
It all comes down to trust. If there isn’t an element of trust, no one cares what you have to say. And trust takes a lot of time to develop.
Social media successes like Guy Kawasaki, Yaro Starak and Brian Clark have been around for over 4-5 years. They have provided their audience with a lot of good content, which has allowed them to leverage their trust. To get their level of success, you need to make some serious effort.
If you are serious about social media, you will have to connect to your audience everyday and think up new ways to engage them.
99% of online marketers will find this task extremely difficult to do for hundreds of different reasons.
3. Social media hates direct marketing: If you try to market directly using social media, you will be disappointed.
And this is exactly what happens. Most people try to use direct marketing on Twitter and Facebook, spam everywhere and end up getting their accounts suspended.
These practices can easily be seen on Twitter. For one thing, my Twitter timeline is always full of people trying to sell Twitter software or home business courses.
People seem to believe that slapping an affiliate link on their profile/outgoing message and writing a catchy, hyped up promotional message will do the trick. This is just not the case.
Social media users are very tech savvy and are there mainly for the content. Provide them with good content, maintain your relationship with them and they MIGHT buy from you down the road.
In conclusion, I am not saying that social media is useless. Quite the contrary.
However, from the perspective of an online marketer, it takes much more time to be successful at social media than it does to rank a website to start receiving traffic through SEO.
That being said, if you have the drive and determination in making it work, it can be a very worthwhile investment.
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